Criminology is the scientific study of the causation, correction, and prevention of crime. It is an important part of the criminal justice system in all societies. For decades, renowned criminologists have been contributing to the field through research, helping societies tackle crime and terrorism. The field dates back to the 18th century, when leading theorists of criminology pushed for reforms in the criminal justice system. Crime is one of the biggest challenges faced by human society.  Millions of dollars are lost each year due to criminal activities. While law enforcement officials work hard to fight crimes, the core of the problem can only be dealt with after a full understanding of why criminals do what they do.

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Criminology Programs

Criminology Programs

Thousands of students are currently preparing for challenging careers in criminology by mastering the field. Criminology is offered as an academic discipline by many universities and colleges. Students can pursue criminology at associate, bachelor, and master level. An associate degree usually takes 2 years to complete; a bachelor degree takes 4 years to complete, and a master degree takes 2 years to complete. Students can also opt for post graduate qualifications and certifications.

Each program is geared towards helping students learn about the criminal justice system, practices of criminal law, corrections, criminal psychology, and criminal profiling. Criminology curriculum will vary from college to college, and will also be dependent upon the level of program. For example, students enrolled in an associate or bachelor degree will focus on fundamental areas of criminology, whereas a master degree in criminology will entail advanced level subjects.


The initial phase of the program typically focuses on theoretical development. Students will acquire basic knowledge about criminology theories, issues, and methods. Further in the program, more emphasis will be laid upon research and practical application of criminology theories. It is important that students gain insight on current criminal issues in the society and the control measures being implemented to lower crime. Listed below are a few subjects that are covered:

  • Crime analysis
  • Criminology
  • Ethics in criminology
  • Psychology of crime
  • Decision making and problem solving
  • Analysis techniques
  • Research methodologies
  • Youth delinquency
  • Forensic science

Research and Thesis

Some institutions require students to complete a thesis and participate in an individual or group research project. Gaining hands on experience is an important part of the program. Students must be able to successfully apply research methods and theories in real-life situations. This will also help students develop and polish the following skill set:

  • Communication skills
  • Analytical skills
  • Decision making skills
  • Problem solving skills
  • Writing skills

Another option is pursuing an internship in criminology. This is also geared towards providing students with practical know-how in a work-setting.

Degree Requirements

Students are required to earn a specific number of credit hours to complete a degree. Each course  carries a number of credit hours that can range from 2-3. Completing assignments, projects, and passing examinations is also crucial for successfully completing a program.

Learning Outcomes:

  • Develop a sound understanding of theories and methods
  • Develop skills by practically applying criminological theories
  • Understand the practical use of quantitative and qualitative research methods
  • Learn about relevant interdisciplinary concepts such as sociology, psychology, criminal justice, and policy-making

Online Criminology Degree

Institutions are also offering online criminology degrees. This mode of learning is accessible and has enabled many working students and professionals to pursue higher education conveniently. Students require a computer and a reliable internet connection to enroll in a criminology degree online.

The coursework is taught with the help of learning software, multimedia presentations, slideshows, online lectures, classroom conferencing, and audio recordings.

Here are a few benefits students will get from an online degree in criminology:

  • Flexibility and ease
  • Self-paced coursework
  • Low costs
  • Individualized attention
  • Study from any location

Admission Requirements

The admission requirements will vary from college to college. These requirements will also depend upon the level of degree being applied for.  To enroll in an associate or bachelor degree, a high school diploma is needed. For enrollment in a master degree, students will have to submit a bachelor degree transcript. Schools may also ask students to:

  • Pass an entry test
  • Meet a minimum CGPA criteria
  • Submit letters of recommendation

Career Prospects and Salary Information

The career prospects will vary from place to place and will also depend upon the level of degree one has earned. Associate degree holders can only qualify for entry-level jobs in organizations. The income potential is also less as compared to graduate degree holders. With a bachelor or master degree, students may qualify for diverse career paths in the federal law enforcement, corrections and probations, and criminal investigations sector, etc.

Criminologists are typically employed by rehabilitation centers and investigative agencies, helping officials solve criminal cases. According to the state of Michigan’s official website (, criminologists fall under the occupation category of sociologists. Other career paths one can consider with a criminology degree have been listed below along with median annual income data provided by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics in 2022:

  • Sociologist – $98,590 per year.
  • Private Detectives and Investigators – $52,120 per year.
  • Probation Officers and Correctional Treatment Specialists – $59,860 per year.
  • Police and Detectives – $65,790 per year.

Following is the career growth for these professions from 2020 to 2030 as projected by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.

  • Sociologist – 5%
  • Private Detectives and Investigators – 6%
  • Probation Officers and Correctional Treatment Specialists – 0%
  • Police and Detectives – 3%

Some careers in criminology can be more challenging that others, and may require more time on the field. For example, police officers must undergo extensive physical training and pass certain tests to qualify for the job. The income level will vary from job to job and will be affected by a number of factors such as specialization, state, agency, and degree.